Members of the European Parliament have visited Malta to assess the progress of the inquiry into the 2017 murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
The delegation of MEPs met with Maltese police and judicial authorities, government and opposition MPs, journalists and civil society representatives; as well as members of Ms Caruana Galizia’s family and Prime Minister of Malta Joseph Muscat. MEPs acknowledged the progress made in recent months in investigating the murder – businessman Yorgen Fenech was arrested last month in connection with the bombing and Muscat has announced he will step down in January 2020, amid growing concern that high ranking members of his government are connected to the murder – but emphasised the need for further comprehensive, independent investigation.
Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed by a car bomb on 16 October 2017 near her home in Malta, in an attack believed to be connected to her extensive work in uncovering and reporting systemic corruption. Since Ms Caruana Galizia’s murder, Maltese investigators have carried out 11 arrests and charged three individuals in connection with the murder, although none of the cases have yet been brought to trial.
The delegation raised concerns over what appeared to be a failure on the part of the Maltese government to address growing distrust and negative perceptions of the government in general and Muscat in particular while the inquiry remains in place. While the MEPs acknowledged that Malta is in the process of implementing institutional reform, they highlighted continuing threats to the rule of law; and expressed further concern over Muscat’s remaining in post until January.
Chair of the EU’s Rule of Law Monitoring Group Sophie in ‘t Veld, who led the delegation, said: “We came to Malta with deep concerns and we leave not reassured. The rule of law under pressure, impunity for crimes, widespread corruption, journalists intimidated and harassed, the right of assembly thwarted and politics descended into toxic bipartisanism. Malta is a part of Europe; what affects Malta, affects Europe. Europe must monitor this situation closely and press for far-reaching constitutional reforms. We stand by the people of Malta, who deserve clean government and officials with integrity.”